ASDA is aware of the issues facing dental students during the COVID-19 national crisis. ASDA continues to advocate for measures that align with our policies, eliminate the use of human subjects in a live clinical testing scenario and advocate for the dental profession. Please see below for updates on ASDA's efforts.  
ASDA leads grassroots advocacy initiative to reform the licensure process
ASDA spearheaded an initiative to send a letter to each state dental board in the United States and Puerto Rico. The Board of Trustees worked with chapter leaders in each state to send letters that advocated for non-patient based alternatives that were best for each state. View the letters.  
ASDA signs on several coalition letters to advance the profession
ASDA continues to work closely with associations within organized dentistry to advocate for small business loans, liability insurance, appropriate PPE for dentists and other measures that would help dental students and dentists.
  • April 14: ASDA, along with 36 other healthcare associations signed on to this letter requesting Congress provide support for 501(c)(6) non-profit relief in future COVID-19 legislation.
  • April 17: ASDA, along with more than 60 dental organizations, signed on to this letter requesting additional funding for the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund and to streamline the process for dentists applying to receive funds.
  • April 17: ASDA, along with more than 50 dental organizations, signed on to this letter requesting that the Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provide immediate access to capital by releasing funding from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund to dentists that are Medicaid providers.
  • April 22: ASDA, along with 13 other dental organizations, signed on to this letter asking the Assistant Secretary for Health to use his discretionary authority during public health emergencies to give additional liability protection for dentists who administer FDA-"authorized" COVID-19 testing kits, similar to the liability protection given to pharmacists.
  • May 4: ASDA, along with 15 other dental organizations, signed this letter asking for flexibility for Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) loans to small business health care providers.
  • May 4: ASDA, along with 76 other dental and healthcare organizations, signed on to this letter urging legislative action to maintain work authorization for individuals currently in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status during the COVID-19 national emergency.  
ASDA celebrates stand-out advocacy leaders
The 2019-20 Council on Advocacy nominated advocacy leaders in their region that exceeded the legislative goals they set for their chapter. Typically, awardees would be recognized during ADA Dentist and Student Lobby Day. However due to the cancellation, we wanted to give you the opportunity to hear from these leaders and learn what advocacy means to them.

Legislative Liaison of the Year: Michael Rosales, Roseman
The future of the dental profession will be written into law with or without our participation. If we fail to be present when decisions are made, we have no control of our future. Therefore, advocacy means we must take responsibility for our future by participating in the legislative process. We must participate so that we can protect fellow students and advance our profession.

As dental students, we have benefited from the efforts of ASDA members who came before us. It is our responsibility to build upon their work and address needs where we see them. As we have benefited from those before us, our work should benefit those who come after us. Part of that work is helping others find their voice. It is the freedom and ability to communicate our thoughts and ideas to each other that will allow us to beat the drums and sound the horns when need calls and change is needed.

Empowering others to voice their opinion, especially if it is a dissenting opinion, makes us more effective. Dealing with those dissenting opinions improves our arguments. It allows us to steal the thunder from our opposition by addressing their arguments before they are made. It makes us able to effect change.

Ultimately, advocacy means all of us working collaboratively to protect our fellow students and advance our profession. If you see a need, call it out. If you disagree with a policy, voice it. Let's all share the mantle of responsibility and work to better the dental school experience and our profession for generations to follow.

Legislative Liaison for Districts 1-3: Sebastian Celis Cifuentes, Columbia
Advocacy means having a voice on the table when decisions are being made. Through advocacy, we can speak up for our rights as dental students on broad matters like student loan debt and licensure reform. Perhaps more importantly, we can speak up for those who don't have a voice, such as communities with little access to care or impoverished children with ectodermal dysplasias. Believe it or not, when legislators see young dental students walk into their office on Lobby Day to advocate for change, they become more willing to listen. They understand that these topics are pertinent to constituents from all generations.

I believe everyone should be involved with advocacy because we all have an aspect of our lives that is worth fighting for. Through policy making, whole communities can benefit from the smallest of changes, and ASDA gives us the opportunity to take part in that process. I am thankful for all of the ASDA advocacy initiatives that have helped make me a more informed dental student, and ultimately a better healthcare provider.

Legislative Liaison for Districts 4 & 5: Katherine Malyszek, North Carolina
Advocacy has allowed me to find my voice and use that voice to stand up for our profession and patients. Advocacy provides us as dental students the opportunity to enact positive change. I believe anyone can get involved with advocacy and anyone who is interested should get involved. We are all advocates for our patients in clinic and we can do the same with issues that affect our profession. Getting involved with advocacy can be as simple as having a conversation with your classmates or writing a letter to your congressman. I hope to be able to help others find their voice through advocacy. 

Legislative Liaison for Districts 6 & 7: Justin Song, Midwestern-Illinois
When I think of advocacy in dentistry, some things are abundantly clear. No progress comes from idly continuing our routine lives. Everyone has some skin in the game whether they acknowledge it or not, and only through a unified plan of action can we as a community alter our fate. Those who are naturally called to take action will begin a movement, and the message grows stronger as others join in and echo that sentiment. Once we are able to mount a united effort for change, it becomes easy to see how far our community has come.  
When I first joined ASDA in 2018 as a D1, I had no idea what it meant to be a part of advocacy. As I look back at what progress we have made as future dentists, it is nothing short of awe-inspiring to see how our collective efforts have made a difference. Our future is bright, and I am excited to see how we will continue to advocate for changes in our profession.

Legislative Liaison for Districts 8 & 9: Caitlin Rosemann, Missouri-Kirksville 
I've always been interested in advocacy, but until I started dental school I didn't realize there was a whole realm of dental advocacy. After I attended my first legislative day with the Missouri Dental Association, I became fired up about advocating for my profession. It was invigorating to get out of the classroom and listen to real-life issues impacting dentistry. As a future dental professional, it became vital for me to become involved in by advocating for my peers and patients.

I've been my ASDA chapter's Legislative Liaison for two years. This not only allowed me to advocate for the profession at a national and state level, but has also allowed me to share advocacy information with my colleagues. This involvement has also given me the opportunity to connect with other dental students and dentists, and develop relationships that will last a lifetime. I cannot stress enough how important advocacy is. If you do not advocate for yourself and your profession your voice will never be heard. I encourage you to speak up for what you believe in, it could change your life or your patient's lives!

FROM Washington
Trump signs a $484 billion COVID-19 relief bill

The issue: On April 24, President Trump signed the COVID-19 relief bill into law. The bill includes funding for the following programs.
  • $310 billion in new funds for the Paycheck Protection Program, a program that works to provide incentives for small businesses to keep employees on the payroll.
  • $60 billion for Small Business Administration disaster assistance loans and grants. This program provides economic relief to small businesses experiencing a loss of revenue.
  • $75 million to hospitals to help address influx of patients during the crisis.
  • $25 billion to increase COVID-19 testing.
Why is it important?  ASDA, along with other associations within organized dentistry have been advocating for economic relief for dentists who own their own businesses. This relief package serves as step to address business owners in need.
FROM the states
Several states address initial licensure during the pandemic
The issue:  States are responding to concerns about professionals not able to receive licensure during this time. Please see below for an update on states that have taken action.

Florida: On April 27, the Florida Board of Dentistry voted to support a one-time waiver of the live-patient components of the ADEX exam for dental and dental hygiene applicants during the time period of the health emergency.

Iowa: On April 3, the Iowa Dental Board approved a waiver for D4 students at the University of Iowa, which permits a modified clinical exam. This includes the manikin portion of the current clinical exam plus an objective structured clinical exam.

Kansas: Gov. Laura Kelly (D) issued an executive order that suspends provisions of licensure that require an exam while the state's emergency declaration is in effect.
Kentucky: On April 17, the Kentucky Board of Dentistry issued a memorandum that states the following: "the requirements for licensure by examination shall be amended to allow applicants who have not yet completed the clinical examination requirement to apply for a provisional dentist license."

Maine: On April 17, the Maine Board of Dental Practice voted to accept the CompeDontâ„¢ Tooth as an alternative to the restorative section of the ADEX exam administered by the Commission on Dental Competency Assessments (CDCA) and the Council of Interstate Testing Agencies (CITA).

Mississippi: On April 15, the Mississippi State Board of Dental Examiners voted to approve the use of the CDCA's new Class II and Class III typodont teeth in a non-patient, manikin-based licensure examination for 2020. The Board also voted to eliminate the Periodontal Scaling portion of the examination for 2020 only.

Oklahoma: On May 1, the Oklahoma State Board of Dentistry passed a resolution that would allow graduates to obtain an emergency temporary license with a supervising dentist until all components of the live patient exam are completed. The temporary license would be valid through December 31, 2020. From the period of May 1 - December 31, 2020 applicants may complete the live patient requirements of the exam by submitting one of the following:
  • Providing written documentation that required procedures were completed on a live patient during their class studies, clinic or residencies at a CODA accredited school. This documentation would need to be signed off by the student, the supervising dentist and the dean of the school.
  • While an applicant is working under the temporary license, if they find a patient that meets the requirements for the live patient exam, they can request that the Board assign an examiner to validate that the treatment was completed correctly.
Pennsylvania: On April 24, the Pennsylvania Department of State released a memo announcing alternatives to the live patient exam during the pandemic. The periodontal/scaling portion of the clinical exam has been waived. The Board voted to accept ADEX's non-patient based restorative exam using the CompeDontâ„¢ all manikin tooth.

Tennessee: On April 17, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) issued an executive order that states "persons applying for licensure as a dentist complete a live human patient examination component is hereby suspended to permit the Board of Dentistry to grant licensure to persons graduating this year from a dental school accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), if such persons have completed the other licensure requirements, met all of the requirements for competency promulgated by the CODA, and been certified by the dean of their CODA-accredited dental school as qualified, competent, and fit to practice dentistry."

Virginia: On May 8, the Virginia Board of Dentistry voted to modify the licensure requirements during the COVID-19 crisis. The Board will accept a clinical dental examination which includes a simulated manikin exercise in restorative dentistry. The scaling exercise with live patients will also be waived.

West Virginia: On April 28, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) issued an executive order allowing 2020 graduates to receive provisional licenses if they are a 2020 graduate approved by the dental Board. The provisional license will expire on Feb. 1, 2021.

Why is this important?  ASDA advocacy efforts have been critical during this uncertain time. Several states have announced changes to the licensure requirements for 2020 that align with ASDA's requests. It is important for you to stay involved in ASDA to ensure that lawmakers and regulatory agencies continue to meet the needs of dental students.
Advocacy Brief shares news about ongoing issues and legislation that are of interest to dental students and organized dentistry. Inclusion of items does not imply their adherence to ASDA policy.